My “therapeutic writing” post: 50% more content minus 50% overly personal rambling. I think it’s 100% better–click and check it out for yourself!
These days, I might be a blogger and novelist, but I’m also still using writing for another purpose, one which has literally saved my life several times. Instead of raging about my problems, I write about them.
How I Got Started Using Writing to Solve Anger and Sadness
I’ve always been a particularly sensitive and emotional person, and I was bullied quite a bit in school, yet I was not allowed to let out those feelings by openly crying at school, nor were my feelings understood by the staff, who believed that “kids will be kids” and I should learn to put up with the horrible treatment I endured. As you probably can guess, this became a HUGE problem over time, until I discovered that I liked to write creatively. Soon enough, I found that I could funnel what I was feeling into writing, using the activity as an emotional pressure valve.
What do I mean by that? I mean writing instead of punching, writing instead of screaming, writing instead of staying home from school just to be away from it all. I had come to love creative writing early on in my life, but beginning especially in middle school, writing became a lifeline. Whatever I felt, I wrote, in poetry that likely should never be seen by anyone else, but helped me cry out with silent paper and ink. There were times when I wrote about getting back at the people who treated me like I was sub-human (because I did get physical abuse at times from some of them), helping me to vent my frustration without hurting anyone. (Some people worried that I was going to act on what I had written, but for me, the act of writing about it was the release of it–once I had written about it, I was finished with it, and I didn’t have those feelings to that high degree anymore.)
This is how I survived school–writing (as well as music) gave me the outlets I needed. These days, I may not need as much of the “venting” space as I used to, but I know it’s still there, whenever I need it–just a few clicks away on my computer.
How You Can Start Using Your Writing as a Pressure Valve
- If something’s really bothering you, words will often come of their own accord; get a paper and pen or open a text document and go to town. Don’t edit yourself, don’t think too hard, just write. If you begin to cry (or even just get a little teary) while writing, you’re doing it right–you’re beginning to expunge the emotional poison.
- If you’re having trouble figuring out what to write about, try freewriting, either on paper or using an online freewriting exercise. Write about anything you want, just don’t stop writing. Start with a nonsense word that makes you laugh if you have to, or write about something you’re sensing in the environment around you, and then just keep going. You would be INCREDIBLY SURPRISED at what comes out of your head when you freewrite! (Another take on freewriting: The Thoughts Room)
- One exercise that works even better than the old “write a letter and don’t send it” trick, especially if you like to write fiction: Write a story about a character who feels just like you do about another person, and then–when you’re ready–write another story from the other person’s perspective. Difficult but REALLY rewarding.
- Lastly, if you’re just as stuck as ever, write one word to describe how you’re feeling. Just one word. Make up a word if you find you don’t know how to describe it any other way. How does your description make you feel? Write about those feelings. (Again, if it makes you a little teary, you’re doing it right!)
Writing can be wonderfully therapeutic, as I’ve certainly experienced over and over. How about you–do you like to use writing like this? Tell me in the comments!